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  • Relic
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on 11 January 2017
Picked this up in a cheap book sale years ago and over the years have read it quite a few times. I have been meaning to give it to a charity shop many times, but every time decided to read it before I did so. I now have the Kindle version as well so I can finally give it away. Easy read, interesting and perfect length for a long flight, a cold evening or a day on the beach. It made me read the rest of the Pendergast series, though this -with Reliquary and Cabinet of Curiosities- is by far the best. Some great characters are introduced in Relic that seem to lose their interesting charms as the series progresses. More and more midlife crises and angst is leaving me less and less captivated as time goes on.
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on 14 August 2017
I read this book because I love the film, Relic. The film is dark and creepy with some good characterisation.

The book is the first in a series of novels that feature Agent Pendergast - an extraordinary man who is an intellect, a philanthropist, and a detective whose speciality is unusual and prolific serial murderers. This mystery thriller is complex and fascinating which has, clearly, been researched thoroughly. The authors take care to explain the arcane and archaic details which underpin the mystery without being patronising. I love novels which educate me as well as take me through a fascinating story. This is one of those. And, it was a joy to find that this is the first in series of novels which feature Agent Pendergast.
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on 6 May 2017
The story started a bit slow but gained speed finally. Could have been more compact. I'll probably read at least five to six books until I decide weather to read them all or quit.
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on 11 June 1998
I'm not one to normally pull paperbacks from the bestseller list. The content of these is usually the same banal trash designed to feed the impotent minds of the masses. However, after much encouragement from a friend whose opinion I trust, I gave "The Relic" a shot, and I am certainly glad I did. Preston and Child have created a riviting thriller with enough science involved to ground it somewhat in reality, creating a believability factor that actually gives the book some scary moments; that's _scary_, not merely a cheap blood-fest for sales value. They also managed to incorporate the science in such a way that it is keeps the story interesting without going into the excruciating detail of authors like Tom Clancy. As in most novels, a few of the tricks they try with the computer system are hoaky -- I could probably name the authors who can write accurate technology fiction on one hand -- but they obviously did enough research to get most of the computer concepts fairly close to reality. All in all, a good read. I would recommend this book to a wide variety of readers.
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Museums aren't usually scary places, unless stuffed animals or old pots are supremely frightening to you. So if you want to set a horror story in one... well, it needs to be pretty unique.

And despite being often described as "Jaws in a museum," it must be admitted that "Relic" is a unique story. While it doesn't resemble most of the other Special Agent Pendergast books, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child spun up a suspenseful, blood-soaked thriller with plenty of corpses, museum drama and a shadowy monster -- and while the science is pretty silly, the story is thick with murky, eerie atmosphere and some pretty horrifying plot twists.

Two young boys are found brutally murdered in the basement of the New York Museum of Natural History. NYPD Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta is called in to investigate who might have done this grisly crime, but he is unprepared for the bizarre clues that the investigation digs up -- someone or something kills the search hounds, and a claw is found embedded in one of the boys' bodies. After a security guard is also killed, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast shows up to investigate as well, informing D'Agosta that he has been investigating similar deaths in New Orleans.

Then the investigation takes a weird turn, as Pendergast realizes that the claw resembles those of a figurine of the lizard god Mbwun. The figurine was the only one sent by a doomed anthropological expedition many years ago, aside from some crates filled with native leaves -- and as more bodies pile up, D'Agosta and Pendergast begin to suspect that what is stalking the museum isn't human. And when a gala opening for a new exhibit goes horribly awry, the creature will be able to feast on the unarmed people trapped in the museum.

Most of the comparisons to "Jaws" seem to be based on the fact that the creature in "Relic" is not really seen in full for most of the story. Preston and Child build up suspense by only giving the readers hints of the creature -- a broken claw, a rank smell -- and the bloody, ripped-apart remnants of its kills, strewn in dark passages and corners where nobody can see it. There's just enough violence to terrify, but most of it is saved for the climactic battle with the creature.

Until then, Preston and Child tangle together ancient tribal superstitions with the dry science of museums and graduate programs. And of course, the whole thing is a murder mystery with a sci-fi angle, with bizarre clues to uncover and some genuinely shocking twists near the finale. The writing style is workmanlike -- it won't dazzle you, but it is solidly written, and has some dry wit to offset all the blood and administrative haggling. Not to mention, the authors juggle the many different perspectives in an effective manner, ranging from the hapless victims to the hard-bitten D'Agosta.

Speaking of which, the characters are one of the story's strong points. Most of it revolves around D'Agosta and Pendergast, who have an odd-couple vibe that works nicely -- one is a weary, experienced NYPD cop, and the other is a dapper Southern special agent with a core of steel. The museum also provides some fun supporting characters, such as the sensible, intelligent Margo, a graduate student struggling with a fork in her life; the hungry dirt-gathering journalist Smithback; the devious Kawakita; and the genial Dr. Frock.

The biggest problem? That would be the science regarding evolution, mutation, and the hormones in the plant life, which are so absurd that they border on comic book science. So quite a bit of suspension of disbelief is required to avoid howling incoherently at various points... although it's still better than the movie adaptation's approach.

While rather different from the rest of the Pendergast series, "Relic" is a suspenseful, creepy thriller that manages to actually make you scared of what might be lurking in museum basements. Eerie, bloody and solidly enjoyable popcorn fare.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 September 2012
I allow myself only limited time to read horror stories and therefore I always try to select them carefully. This one I took with me on holidays to read it on the beach and it was a good choice!

It is hardly a spoiler to say that this is a story about a monster. Well, there are many books about monsters, but this one stands out because of following reasons:

- its haunting (and hunting) ground is quite unique - New York Museum of Natural History. I never was there but it seems this is a huge place and for needs of the novel authors "upgraded" it a little bit more. As the result, the place of action is really creepy and scary.

- skillful writing - both authors know how to write and they managed to REALLY create an atmosphere of fear; the first couple of hours after finishing this book I really found myself unconfortable when I had to go down to the basement...

- the monster - there are many mysteries surrounding the monster and we do not discover the last element of the puzzle before the very end; the whole story of the monster has a little lovecraftian element (not saying more - discover it by yourself) which makes it better than most other horror books

There are also some weaker elements. Most of the characters are perfectly forgettable - frankly, the only person I cared for was the police lieutenant, D'Agosta. Agent Pendergast, who is the main hero, well, I didn't like him much. I also found somehow weak the fact that other than Pendergast and D'Agosta, all policemen from NYPD and FBI agents were completely and totally incompetent and useless (with just the exception of one brave NYPD sergeant, but who appears only on a couple of pages). Also, really, the donut jokes? It is now such a cliché...

But still, I liked this book. I do not think I will buy the second part (they are usually much weaker), but this one was good. Pity that in the film adaptation the director changed so much and as a result produced a much weaker thing...
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on 13 September 2002
I read this book before I saw the film version and like usual the book was much better! I was quite dissapointed with the film as one of my favorite characters wasn't in the film and the ending was totally different.
The Relic is about a creature that lives in the underground basements of the New York Natural History Museum. It creeps around at night time and kills and feeds on its unsuspecting victims brains, eating only the parts that contain hormones. As the story goes on you discover more about the ill fated trip that brought the creature back and the true identity of what it is.
This book is full of suspense and extremely hard to put down.
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on 27 July 2000
Lets get one thing clear from the start: the novel of 'The Relic' should not be tarred with the same brush as the film. Book-to-film transitions are rarely spectacular, and the film should have been made as a collaboration between Ridley Scott and Stephen Spielberg, but it wasn't, so the less said about it the better. The book, a union between writer Lincoln Child and scientist Douglas Preston, is the cutting edge of the Michael Crichton style techno-thriller, and at the same time a jolly good horror novel to boot. The balance between science, suspense and action is superbly orchestrated, and at no point does it fail in its narrative. The characters are exceptionally well drawn, the settings, especially the museum and its underlying catacombs, vividly conceptualised, and the issues of grant money, museum and city politics, and FBI/police differences always enthralling and adding an oddly realistic air to the otherwise horrific proceedings.
The book begins as it means to go on, dark and sinister, with guards and children butchered early on in particularly nightmarish scenes. The build up towards the gala opening of the museum's new, eerily consistent Superstition Exhibition and the attempt by the museum officials to let nothing get in the way of its fund raising is both gripping and intriguing. As Margo Green's investigations into a previous exploratory expedition unfolds, and she briefly encounters a terrifying creature in the dark, cynical cop Lieutenant D'Agosta makes headway in his investigation of the killings. The level-headed Agent Pendergast, reminiscent of the unshakeable Agent Cooper from 'Twin Peaks', is a welcome addition to the cast, sparking up various witty repartees with the aforementioned police officer. The climax erupts on the gala night more than one hundred pages from the end, exploding into a gruesome and fast-paced pressure-cooker scenario in which a monster hunts down a group of the gala-night revellers through the crypt-like interior of the museum. What separates 'The Relic' from a million other such novels is that, rather than building to a ten-page climax, the nerve-racking, climactic atmosphere is phenomenally maintained for almost a quarter of the book. While D'Agosta and the irascible reporter Smithback lead the survivors deeper and deeper underground through creepy, water-filled tunnels, Green and Pendergast rush to discover the true nature of the creature in what is certainly the most terrifying and gripping dénouement I have ever read.
The one criticism I would have is that the epilogue is of a completely different tone to the rest of the story and seems tagged on merely to provide food for a sequel, which it indeed did in 'Reliquary'. That aside, it is one of the most atmospheric and well-thought-out novels ever written, at once exciting, terrifying and intelligent, combining the mainstream writing techniques of high-concept thrillers and combining them with the scientific captivation of author Richard Preston, brother of the co-author here. If only Lincoln Preston's other books were as good, Michael Crichton would have a run for his money.
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on 12 June 2016
In the underground passages and secret rooms of the New York Museum of Natural History lurks a monster. For many years it has hid, more rumor than reality...until the bodies start to appear. Everyone assumes a mad man is responsible. The police will find him soon, make an arrest, and the museum will continue its activities, undisturbed.

The museum's researcher, Dr. Frock, and his Ph. D. student, Margo Green, discover what is behind the killings, but no one wants to believe a true monster with super powers exists. So despite gruesome killings, the museum directors schedule an exhibition designed to bring in much needed money. Meanwhile the researchers work with hard-boiled detective D'Agosta, impeccably cultured FBI Agent Pendergast, and glory-loving journalist Smithback to stop the violence and save lives.

Many characters of various attitudes inhabit this thriller, along with multiple points of view. As remarkable as the plot is, so are the individuals. I have more than one favorite. My favorite scene is Smithback, the journalist, hiding beneath a table of spilled goodies, eating, while a mob stampedes in panic. And I delight at the unflappable way FBI Agent Pendergast handles people and situations. I'd like to see more of him.

After the terror dies, the surprises continue. Loose ends are satisfactorily tied--with one strand remaining, an opening for a follow-up story.
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on 25 June 2017
I had no idea that this was in french when I downloaded it with no english edition. I have since had a refund. Very disappointed.
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